State of the Nation

* Any statements in this issue of the Watch which are not sourced are mine and identified by “WW”.

28% of registered voters say the country is headed in the right direction. 60% of registered voters say the country is on the wrong track.

  Right track Wrong track
Male 27% 61%
Female 25% 58%
Democrats 51% 32%
Republicans 11% 83%
Independents 22% 66%
Urban 36% 47%
Suburban 25% 66%
Rural 18% 66%

[Econ/YouGov 2/8/22]

The NBC Poll of 1/18/22 has the right track at 22% and the wrong track at 72%.

We have to look all the way back to April 2009 to find a time when the right direction/wrong track numbers were even (43%). There has been no time when the right direction number has exceeded the wrong track number. [NBC 1/18/22]

82% of U.S. car buyers paid above manufacturers’ suggested retail price in January. Just 2.8% paid above MSRP in the same month in 2021 and 0.3% in 2020.

The U.S. budget had a surplus of $119 billion in January. That is the first budget surplus in more than two years. Tax receipts are up significantly: they grew by 21% in January to $465 billion as higher employment and earnings meant a jump in payroll taxes and withholdings. At the same time outlays fell 37%. [Heather Cox Richardson 2/12/22]

78% of Americans are dissatisfied with the way things are going in the United States today while 21% are satisfied.
Yet a majority of Americans – 61% – say they expect 2022 to be a better year than 2021. [PEW 1/25/22]

In 2021 only 39% of Americans said they trust the U.S. government. The following are a selection of countries whose people are either more or less trusting of their governments.

Trust in Own Government
China 91%
Saudi Arabia 87%
India 74%
Germany 47%
United Kingdom 42%
United States 39%
Russia 37%
Argentina 22%

[Edelman Trust Barometer 2022]

48% see government and 46% see the media as a dividing force in society while 45% see business and 50% see NGOs as unifying forces in society.

Who is purposely trying to mislead people by saying things they know are false or gross exaggerations? 67% say journalists and reporters, 66% say their country’s government leaders, and 63% say that business leaders. [2022 Edelman Trust Barometer 2022]

In 2021 the economy grew 5.7% (1.7% in the 4th quarter of the year) and generated a record 6.4 million jobs. This compares with 2020 when the economy shrank by 3.4% and lost 9.4 million jobs. [USAToday and NYT 1/27/22]

In January 2022, however, prices rose at a 7.5% annual rate. [NYT 2/10/22]

46% of us are hopeful about how things will go in the United States over the next year while 46% are scared and 30% are angry. [CBS News Poll 2/11/22]

Just 45.7% of the world’s population currently lives in a democracy of some sort. [Axios Sneak Peak 1/13/22]

The following are the most important issues facing the nation in January according to registered voters.

Jobs and the economy 23%
Voting rights and election integrity 16
The coronavirus 14
The cost of living 13
Border security and immigration 8
Taxes and spending 8
Climate change 6

America now has 1 million fewer college students than before the start of the pandemic. The declines are hitting public and private colleges and two- and four-year schools. The hardest hit are public two-year colleges. [Mike Allen Axios PM 1/13/22]

Free vending machines are popping up around the country to dispense doses of Narcan or naloxone, drugs that can quickly reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. More than 87,000 Americans died of opioid overdoses in the 12-month period that ended in September 2021. [Axios What’s Next 1/11/22]

76% of American adults believe there is a threat to democracy and majority rule in this country. [NBC 1/18/22]

Over the past decade, the number of U.S. adults who self-identify as LGBTQ has doubled to 7.1%, driven by Gen Z’s coming of age. People who identify as LBGTQ could make up 10% to 15% of the adult population in the not-too-distant future.

Gen Z adults who identify as LGBTQ have increased from 10.5% in 2017 to 20.8% in 2021. Millennials identifying as LGBTQ increased from 5.8% in 2012 to 10.5% in 2021.

Gen Z women are roughly 3x more likely than men to identify as LGBTQ. Millennial women are about 2x more than millennial men to identify as LGBTQ.
[Axios PM 2/17/22]

The Center for Politics at the University of Virginia recently ranked states by their demography. They used 3 criteria to rank states demographically.

  1. What percentage of a state’s residents 25 years and older have bachelor’s degrees or higher?
  2. What percentage of the state’s residents are white?
  3. How urban or rural is the state?

The answer is that West Virginia is the state that is most demographically friendly for Republicans.

Here are the rest of the 10 most GOP-friendly states: 2. Wyoming; 3. Kentucky; 4. South Dakota, Idaho, North Dakota, and Iowa are tied. 8. Montana; 9. Maine; and 10. Arkansas.

Here are the 10 most Democratic-friendly states: 1. Maryland; 2. New Jersey; 3. New York; 4. California; 5. Massachusetts; 6. Hawaii; 7-8. Connecticut, Illinois, tied; 9. Virginia; 10. Colorado.

67% of Americans feel that things in America are going badly while only 33% think things are going well. [CBS News Poll 2/11/22]

In the 12 months ending in June 2021, 101,260 people died of a drug overdose. In the 12 months ending in June 2019, that number was 68,710 people.
[Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.]

When President Biden announced plans to ship 500 million free coronavirus tests to Americans, the announcement was well received. WW also thinks it was well organized. WW applied and my application was rejected. It turns out that my spouse Debbie had already applied, and we have the same address. In due course we received 4 tests in the U.S. mail.

However, an estimated 64 million Americans live in multi-generational households. Assuming the same qualifying test, that each home will only get 4 tests to be used by however many people live in that household i.e., a person who lives alone gets the same number of tests as a household of 8 people. There is also the situation where more than one family shares a post office box. The head of one such family said, “We just decided that whoever wasn’t feeling well…go ahead and use it.”

The administration has announced that it will be distributing an additional 500 million tests in coming months. [WP 2/17/22]

Even that will not be enough.


The official BLS seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for January 2022 is 4.0%. That unemployment rate is higher than the 3.9% in December, and substantially less than the 6.4% unemployment rate of January 2021.

If one considers the total number of unemployed + those marginally attached to the labor force + those working part-time who want full-time work, the unemployment rate in January was 7.1% down from 7.3% in December and less than 11.1% a year earlier.

The Labor Force Participation Rate (LFPR) in January is 62.2%, up from 61.9% in December 2021.

The Demographics of Unemployment for January 2022

Unemployment by Gender (20 years and older)

  • Women – 3.1% (same as last month)
  • Men – 3.2% (up from last month)

Unemployment by Race

  • White – 3.4% (up from last month)
  • Black – 6.9% (down from last month)
  • Hispanic – 4.9% (same as last month)
  • Asian – 3.6% (down from last month)

Unemployment by Education (25 years & over)

  • Less than high school – 6.3% (up from last month)
  • High School – 4.6% (same as last month)
  • Some college – 3.6% (same as last month)
  • Bachelor’s Degree or higher – 2.3% (up from last month)

In December 2021, 24 states had unemployment rates below the national average of 3.9%. 2 states had an unemployment rate that was the same as the national average. 26 states, including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, had unemployment rates that were above the national average.

The state with the highest unemployment rate in December was Puerto Rico at 7.5%.

In 1983, about 20% of employees belonged to a union; by 2021, that number had dropped to just over 10%. 10.6 percent of male workers belong to a union while 9.9 percent of female workers belong to a union. [Bureau of Labor Statistics]

68% of Americans approve of labor unions, which is the highest level of approval since sometime before 1985. [NYT 1/29/22]

The reserves of the combined Social Security and disability trust funds are projected to be depleted in 2034. Absent action by Congress, that would force an across-the-board benefit cut of about 20 percent. [NYT 1/30/22]

In December 2021, 4.3 million quit their jobs.